Four women were attacked with acid in front of a Phnom Penh garment factory in Dangkao district’s Kakab commune during lunch break yesterday, police said. A 22-year-old man allegedly doused and severely burnt Keo Savorn, 22, while three women nearby were splashed and left with minor injuries, said Dangkao district police chief Born Sam Ath.
An unnamed male co-worker reportedly poured battery acid on the head and shoulders of Ms Savorn who is believed to be a former lover, Mr Sam Ath said.
“This case was related to a love triangle uncovered during the first stage of police investigations,” he said.
Ms Savorn is currently receiving treatment at Calmette Hospital as 200 district police continue to hunt for her attacker, he added.
San Pet, Kakab commune police chief, said that the suspect had doused Ms Savorn among a crowd leaving to eat lunch and then fled the scene. “Our police are searching for him after collecting some information from witnesses on the spot. The suspect is still at large,” Mr Pet said.
A doctor at Calmette Hospital confirmed that Ms Savorn suffered third-degree burns to tissue beneath the skin and that her face, ear and possibly eyes had been damaged.
Chhun Sophea, program manager of the Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity, said that during a visit the badly burnt victim said as the acid was thrown she had recognized the perpetrator from the factory.
“She was very concerned about how to pay for all of this” treatment, Ms Sophea said, noting that the charity offered free medical care at its center.
An alarming number of recent attacks have increased the urgency for a new law being drafted to suppress acid attacks, which includes possible life sentences for offenders, Ms Sophea said.
“Until the new law passes and attackers are prosecuted and put in jail there will always be new attacks…. We want the new law out ASAP so Cambodia can stop this.”
So far this year the charity has recorded 20 new acid attack cases injuring 24 people while 33 injured people were recorded in the whole of 2009, though some were attacked in previous years.
(Additional reporting by Alice Foster)